Monday, March 5, 2018

TIPS FROM THE EDITOR: Remembering How to Write in the Growing World of Social Media

Don’t misunderstand – I love Texting, Facebooking, Instagramming, Tweeting....

But I wonder what the impact will be on the current generation focused on these cryptic forms of communication. Will we forget how to write a complete sentence? Will the next generation even know about adjectives and adverbs? Will we be able to write anything without adding the ubiquitous hashtag?

I suspect my concern might be inflated. After all, our schools still teach reading, writing and arithmetic. Well, at least reading and arithmetic. How much longer will they count writing as a requirement? As we eliminate music, art, and sports form our schools, can writing be far behind? 

OK, OK. I’m exaggerating again maybe just a little – but I fear JUST a little.  However, just in case, I’m thinking that we might want to offer some tips to assure we continue to think in sentences and paragraphs. And what better place to hone our writing skills than having fun with our family and simultaneously increasing quality time together.

FunFamily Writing Exercises

My suggestion is that you schedule time for family activities and include some writing exercises as one of the “games.” Don’t make the timing inflexible – after all we’re all very busy being cryptic. And if it works better for your family just to do it extemporaneously, then so be it. But make it a priority.

Maybe Sunday evening as part of an informal family dinner you could do some of the following exercises to involve as many family members as possible. I suspect if you’re a parent you already know that you’ll have to work on topics of interest to the age group of your kids, although "superheroes" seems to be a subject for all ages at the moment. 

By the way, you might also consider this as a great way to tell Mom what you think of her for Mother’s Day; or Dad for Father’s Day; or for any family member birthday. Eventually you might like the exercises so much that you start to write prose and poetry. 

Consider using one or more of the following as part of your routine family gatherings. Once you start, you will most likely think of many other exercises that your family might appreciate.

·      A special gift for Mother’s Day or for Mom’s birthday: each family member choose a topic to build a story about Mom. Then put it together in one document. You can print it out or read it to her. Suggested topics:
o   Her sense of humor – she always laughs at my jokes
o   Her fantastic appearance
o   The cool way she tells me I’ve made a mistake
o   How she helps me with my homework
o   Her favorite movies
·      Each family member is to write a paragraph that includes a topic sentence and at least 2 detail sentences and a conclusion about a favorite super hero without telling anyone who it is. Write a physical description, special gift that makes your character a super hero, and why you like him/her. Read your description to your family. The first one to guess gets to go next.  
·      Each family member writes a paragraph describing the family getting ready for school or work in the morning. For a little something extra, include some dialogue. This should make for some interesting discussion when you read your paragraph aloud to the rest of the family and then they read their paragraph. The different perspectives could be very enlightening.
·      Write a dialogue that occurred between you and your teacher, friend or even a stranger. Ask the rest of the family to act it out. 

Of course, in today's world of school, earning a living, commuting, baseball games, music lessons, extra-hour work meetings, hobbies, television, movies, and errands--and so many unexpected interruptions, maybe we don't have time to learn to communicate. But surely we can try.

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